Ofer - Public Hearing

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(NOT) observing: Norah Orlow


Translation: Marganit W.

I came to Ofer this morning to watch the continuing trial of Mustafa Odeh - Case 5406/11. He is the Wallaje resident whose trial we have been following for several weeks now. It was important to hear the testimony of the complainant in this case, a BP officer.
I showed up at the gate at 9:30 and waited there with a representative from the Women Prisoners Committee. It was very cold and rainy. We waited until 11. Only then were we allowed to enter the compound to undergo the security check. I was not able to enter the court until 11:15, when the hearing had just finished.
This is not the first time that this happens lately. For several weeks an order "from above" stipulates that visitors can be admitted only after all the Palestinians are in. We certainly support the principle that Palestinians should be admitted as fast as possible. However, it is unconscionable that those who wish to observe the trials will miss the hearings, which they specifically came to attend.

Last week we contacted Haled Hamdan, Public Relations Officer of the Military Courts, to complain. He explained that he was not  responsible and that the order had indeed come from "above".

A visitor to the courts does not care whether the order comes from the Prison Authority, the Military or the Court itself. As far as we are concerned, the principle of  Public Hearings has become a sham and a fiction.

Some people come from Tel Aviv and even farther to attend the trials. Sometimes also diplomats wait for hours to be admitted to the compound - in all kinds of weather. They accept it as part of the military court system and they note the unreceptive procedures.
We protest this blatant attempt to prevent us from exercising our right to be present at the hearings we are interested in. Thus, I have asked MachsomWatch legal counsel to lodge an official complaint and try to rectify the situation.